What teachers really make

September 29th, 2009 by Ken

            School has started in the local area, and while some school districts had a hard time bargaining with their teachers for a new contract, that wasn’t the case locally.

            In the North Thurston Public Schools, teachers signed their new contract for 09-10.  District spokesman Courtney Schrieve said “We’re thankful to have such a good working relationship with our employee groups especially during times when other districts are dealing with strikes and bigger reductions than we are facing.”

            Altogether, the North Thurston district has 11 bargaining units the largest of which is the North Thurston Education Association (NTEA), the union representing certificated workers including teachers.

            Assistant Superintendent Brian Wharton said that the district averages about three contracts a year in negotiations.  The NTEA just approved a one-year contract, which means they’ll be back at the bargaining table next year.

            But, what’s in the contract?  What does it contain that makes teachers strike, districts dig in their heels, parents antsy and taxpayers reluctant?

            I have the scoop. 

            The North Thurston Public Schools has 1640 employees, of which 897 are certificated employees.  Some 32 are principals and 8 are administrators.  The actual head county of teachers is 854 or a total of 800 FTEs.  (The actual number of teachers for the 09-10 period could change as enrollment changes.) 

            Teachers cannot bargain for wages.  The salary of every teacher is set by the state from a state salary schedule which goes from $35,000 to $70,000 based on a teacher’s educational level and time as a teacher.

            The average wage scale in North Thurston is $54,000.

            The state bases its pay on a school year of 181 days.  (Down from 182 days in 08-09.  So teachers get an extra day of pay this year.)

            Teachers can bargain for additional days.  This year teachers will get four additional paid days in the North Thurston district.  The cost averages about $1000 per teacher for those four additional days.

            Those days are used for teacher preparation

            Teachers also negotiated pay for off calendar work.  The amount paid by the district is 9.35 percent of the teacher’s salary.  That averages in the district about $5000 per teacher.

            So the average teacher in North Thurston  makes about $6000 per year more than the state salary schedule.

            Bear in mind that teachers will work this year 185 days.  The average non-teacher will work about 242 days a year.

            Teachers in essence work two-thirds time.  To adequately gauge a teacher’s salary against everyone else, their average pay of $54,000 plus $1000, plus $5000 comes to $60,000.  Multiply $60,000 by one-third and you come up with an average teacher salary of about $80,000 when compared to a worker working 242 days.

            What other benefits do teachers receive?

            Contributions to their retirement ranges from 6 to 8.6 percent depending on what program the teacher decides upon. These are not negotiated but determined by the state.  The teachers match the amount paid by the district.  So, six percent of $60,000 is $3600 per year additional money paid into an individual teacher’s retirement account.

            Teachers also get $745 per month for health care benefits.  These are also determined by the state and are not negotiated.

            Teachers can also get additional pay for coaching or acting as an advisor to student groups.  This pay ranges from $800 to $2500.

            Teachers get 12 sick days per school year and 2 personal leave days each school year.

            The NTEA also bargains for class size.   The agreed upon class size is 25 students for grades K-3; 30 students for grades 4-6 and 32 students for grades 7-12.

            If a teacher has a larger class than agreed upon, she has a menu of options.  She can be paid additional money for each additional student at the high school level or the district can divide her class and hire another teacher at the elementary school level.

            The teacher’s union also bargains for planning time.  At the elementary school level, each teacher gets 40 consecutive minutes per day for planning time.  At the high school level they get 50 minutes.  According to Wharton most get in excess of the required planning time.

            The union can bargain for additional benefits for those working with special ed. 

            Deciphering a teacher’s bargaining contract is tougher than interpreting the IRS tax code.  But I’ve brought you the best idea of what’s contained in the current agreement between the North Thurston Public Schools and the North Thurston Education Association.

            Since this is only a one-year agreement, the two sides will begin bargaining shortly for the 10-11 school year.    


(Editors note:  The preceding story ran in the September 09 edition of “Ken’s Corner & The Real News.”)


Posted in Government, History, Informational, The Real News

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